Ladue Stormwater Management Program


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  • Ladue, Missouri

Many neighborhoods in Ladue, Missouri, were originally platted and developed between 1930 and 1960 with little or no stormwater management infrastructure. In some cases, a limited mixture of private and quasi-public stormwater piping networks were retrofitted into neighborhoods, back yards, and street corridors. Rarely did any of these systems have a capacity or construction quality meeting today’s standards. As a result, Ladue evolved into something of a paradox – an affluent community with beautiful residential landscapes, yet woefully underserved from a stormwater management standpoint.

The resulting drainage challenges have only amplified in recent years, as the frequency of intense rainfall events has increased. Streambank and channel erosion are common in the community. Fast-water rescues have been necessary at times, as motorists became trapped in floodwaters. Numerous instances of property damage were reported throughout the community as streets, homes, and vehicles were inundated by localized flash flooding. Properties in Ladue are typically high value, and damages are thus of great monetary impact. Currently, Zillow computes a median list price of $1,075,000 for homes in Ladue, based on 98 listings.

Residents voted to approve a stormwater sales tax to fund drainage improvements and called upon the City to address these issues throughout the community. In response, the City launched a comprehensive and programmatic analysis of stormwater management needs throughout Ladue. The goal was to create the Ladue Stormwater Management Program (SMP) identifying and prioritizing capital improvements to alleviate drainage issues.

However, most subdivisions within the City of Ladue are entirely private, containing no public right-of-way whatsoever. This fact severely limits the City’s authority to implement solutions where drainage issues exist. Any improvements to address drainage issues would require extensive stakeholder involvement to obtain the support of all affected property owners. Thus, the Master Planning process would undoubtedly require a fusion of technical analysis and skilled public engagement.

The City of Ladue selected HR Green, Inc. as the prime consultant to lead the Stormwater Master Plan process. In this role, HR Green reached out to residents in public meetings and individually to characterize drainage issues in Ladue and begin building public support for possible solutions. Extensive investigation and computer modeling were completed. Possible projects were evaluated on a cost-benefit basis. The result was the Ladue Stormwater Master Plan which identified more than $113 million in projects with potential for net positive benefit to the community. Geotechnology, Inc. assisted with the stream assessment portion of the project.

The City of Ladue created a Stormwater Advisory Committee (SWAC) to work with the consultant on the Master Plan. The SWAC also establishes City policies and ordinances relating to stormwater management. The City maintains and regularly updates a GIS database of stormwater-related complaints and problem points within the community. The SWAC reviewed the initial needs assessment prepared by the consultant as a first step in the Master Plan process. Out of this review, the SWAC developed Ordinance No. 2137, creating a Stormwater Control Program for the City of Ladue. The Master Plan deliverable was then created in support of this program. Throughout the Master Planning process, City staff actively assisted in public outreach activities and documenting stormwater issues throughout the community.


ACEC Missouri – Honor Award

APWA St. Louis Branch Technical Innovation Award

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